Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring shorebirding in Honduras

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

This second week of May, the shorebirding has been rewarding down here in Honduras. We were alerted to this by our friend Oliver, who found Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Wilson's Phalarope on the Zamorano University campus last weekend. On Monday, we swung by and observed those birds with him.

Wilson's Phalarope Monday at Zamorano University campus

We figured, however, that the southern salt ponds in the Gulf of Fonseca should be productive as well, so Wednesday morning we set out to bird that area. In our haste to be in the field as early as possible, before the infernal heat of midday, I forgot my camera. I'm sure any photographer will back me up when I say that it is precisely at such times that great photo opportunities abundantly present themselves.

Pectoral Sandpipers with a Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A cattle pasture next to extensive salt pans had a large flock (150+) of Pectoral Sandpipers, with four Buff-breasted Sandpipers and four Baird's Sandpipers mixed in. In the salt pans themselves, we found scattered little flocks of Wilson's Phalaropes, one large peep flock that consisted of 93 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 8 Westerns, some scattered Leasts, as well as another Buff-breasted, some Pectorals, scattered Stilt Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and various other shorebirds. The best bird there was a White-rumped Sandpiper, a first for me in Honduras. We had great looks at all these birds, but no way to document them other than with field notes.

The next morning, we went back there, this time armed with a camera. Upon arrival, shorebird numbers seemed to be a little lower than the day before, but in the end we managed to see – and photograph – every species we reported the day before, with the exception of Greater Yellowlegs. 

Baird's Sandpiper

Only one Baird's Sandpiper remained in the field where the day before we had observed four. This individual had a small bill deformity, and the bill color was a little off too, but otherwise structure and plumage were good for this species.

Wilson's Phalaropes

In the adjacent salinera, scattered groups of Wilson's Phalaropes were still present, and easy to find.

This White-rumped Sandpiper (right) is too tired to stand on its legs

We also found a White-rumped Sandpiper, but this individual was clearly much more rufous than the one from the day before. It was in the company of Western Sandpipers, but unlike them it just sat there looking utterly exhausted, probably having just arrived after a non-stop flight from Tierra del Fuego!

No comments: